Does politics really matter?
Gareth Davies is Head of Churches Department at CARE. Here he challenges Christians who are tempted towards apathy and the idea that politics doesn't really matter.
In the midst of the fraught and fractious countdown to the General Election there is a question crops up all too readily. ‘Does it really matter?’
If it doesn’t then many will simply not turn up. And those that do will not be motivated to get involved again before the next national showdown. After all, isn’t the mantra of the age ‘They’re all just the same’? The shifting sands of political principles have led large sectors of the voting public to the conclusion that politicians cannot be trusted and that the establishment is ‘broken’.
Where once there were ideological divides there are now large pools of common interest seemingly informed by focus groups. Instead of providing leadership, it seems we have the followership our fickle attitudes deserve. We want the earth but we don’t want to pay for it. We want it all now but we’ll complain if that leaves us with consequences in the future. We talk about society but we turn against our leaders if others are seen to benefit more than we do ourselves.
The rediscovery of principle is essential to political engagement. Christian theology has long-recognised that the image of God is the essential foundation of our humanity. It provides us with both status and humility, we are like God and we are equally precious. Whether you are the youngest or the oldest, the richest or the poorest, the most able or the most incapacitated - all matter equally. As we consider our self-centred desires, we are challenged by having a responsibility towards each other. When society is not working for the benefit of all, the Christian challenge is not to shrink back and let others get on with it but rather to ‘seek the welfare of the city’.
Some respond by providing face-to-face social action such as debt counselling or foodbank provision. Others operate in representative positions like local councillors, school governors or members of parliament. But we all have a stake in society, we all have a voice in the choir of humanity. We should think about human dignity as we cast our vote especially for the marginalised and the vulnerable. In all areas of policy they are the most acutely affected whether they are the unborn child, the sexually-abused, the malnourished family or the cruelly exploited labourer.
Human dignity is our moral compass. Let it determine our choice on May 7th, may it be our guide for engagement in politics for the common good.
CARE provides loads of great resources for Christians wanting to know more about politics. Click here for their specially dedicated General Election page.
, General Election
, Human Dignity
, Politics & Social Action
, Politics and Social Action